Lives and More…
urbanised parts aside, Bangladesh remains largely a hub
of natural beauty. Lives in the rural parts are still cosily
wrapped up in simplicity. Alok, a photographer with an eye
for landscape with river as the central feature and also
lives that centre on rivers, showcases his recent yields
in a solo exhibition at Gallery Shilparag.
Alok picked up his first camera way back
in 1985. It was a borrowed Nikon with which he, then, a
student of first year at the Institute of Fine Arts in Dhaka,
dabbled into the culture of capturing images. "It was
in 1985, a time when colour photography and its processing
was not as available as it is today. So, I started out with
black and white," says Alok.
first chance to see the world through the lens of his own
camera came in 1986, when his maternal uncle bought him
a Nikon-EM. In the beginning, he was attracted to the idea
of capturing the lives of the day-labourers. But, soon,
he took a liking to what later would become his pet subject,
the scenic beauty of the river Kaliganga, the river that
runs through Manikganj.
"Kaliganga infatuated me since my childhood.
When I got a camera of my own, I developed the habit of
making frequent visits to capture the river and lives that
thrive on it," says Alok. As a boy he grew up in Manikganj,
and it was from the first colour reel that he loaded his
camera with back in 1986, that Alok became a photographer
glued to Kaliganga's abiding ebb and flow, and its changing
scenic beauty year round.
"I have seen the river change over
the years. Now it is a narrow, winding strip of water during
most part of the year, it wasn't so when we were little,"
observes Alok, whose latest crop of photographs, as usual,
shows the river from a birds eye perspective. In fact the
bridge that runs across the river provided Alok time and
again with an advantage to capture scenes from the top as
well as afar.
at scenic beauty from afar is a thing that I wish to continue,"
stresses Alok, whose oeuvre consists of compositions of
the river and its banks seen from far off.
In the catalogue Naeem Hasan, a writer and
an art aficionado, points out that Alok takes pleasure in
"clicking for a wider angle." This marks him out
among many other nature enthusiasts. With him the results
are often a wide canvas-like back drop where boats, fishing
nets and even humans get to play the part of art-elements
in an ambitious formalist composition. Beauty is the most
important ingredient of this twenty-plus photographer and
he often dwells on its possibility from an abstract point
He also gets closer to his subjects -- the
people on the fringe -- to bring forth the glory of simple
living and all that goes into its making. The fishermen,
the boat-builders in action, their family lives in rural
homesteads, these are new areas that the photographer has
explored for the last two years. The outcome sometimes is
of documentary value, and often something like an art piece
strewn with distant, yet recognisable subjects to contemplate
on. These newer forays illuminate lives from the fringe
that go to enlighten us, and illuminate the dark patches
in our urban psyche.
relay of river images in this second solo of Alok, are punctuated
by humans -- documented in an unassuming language -- true
to their existence and realities. Yet, one can easily deduce
that Alok has a pair of eyes that craves for natural setting
where all things mingle together to strike a visual harmony.
With images of river that embraces green patches upon its
shallow bed, or the dry, sandy riverbeds, showing its natural
marks and the signs of human transgressions, are his signature
images that have the capacity to leave a lasting mark in
the viewers' minds.
Unnayan Shamannay, a non government organisation,
has helped organise this show titled Nature's Rhapsody.
The show was inaugurated on June 3 and lasted till June